It Took a Neighborhood

When I grew up it didn’t take a village, it took a neighborhood; and we kids on Rubberneck Avenue had one.

Playing grocery store was a favorite pastime.  Kindly neighbors opened cans from the bottom so that we could “stock” our shelves (actually our picnic table and benches) with corn, beans, fruit cocktail and the like.  Mom was our reliable source for old tokens and war issue stamp books that she had saved like everything else that passed through her hands; these ration books provided neat “money”. Our customers easily managed their food bills in our store, as inflation hadn’t hit us baby boomers in the fifties.  Brown paper bags completed the props.

Each child, in turn, played grocer.  Once shopping was completed, excess inventory was tossed away.  None of us was concerned with Mother Earth at the time, so the empty cans went into the garbage for regular pick-up and the table and benches resumed their backyard use.  Market day was over.  Still, all of us kids knew: the next time we needed upside-down-opened cans, the neighboring moms would again come through for us.  That was our personal conception of security; a never ending supply of empty Del Monte cans, lovingly supplied by the moms on the block.